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No slowing bats as Rays cap Toronto sweep

May 18, 2016

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are known for their offense, but it was the Rays who rolled into Toronto and stole the show with their bats.Logan Morrison, Desmond Jennings and Kevin Kiermaier each homered on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre as Tampa Bay secured a 6-3 victory to complete a

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are known for their offense, but it was the Rays who rolled into Toronto and stole the show with their bats.
Logan Morrison, Desmond Jennings and Kevin Kiermaier each homered on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre as Tampa Bay secured a 6-3 victory to complete a road sweep of the Blue Jays for the first time since July 19-21, 2013. The Rays outscored the Blue Jays, 31-7, over the three-game series, sending Toronto to a fifth straight loss, a season high for the club.
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Right-hander Jake Odorizzi picked up his first victory in nine starts this season for Tampa Bay, limiting the Blue Jays to two runs over five innings. Odorizzi scattered two hits and four walks while striking out two and throwing 46 of his 87 pitches for strikes.
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"Awesome series," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Just an outstanding effort. Obviously, the offense kind of carried us quite a bit in this series against another potent offense. But I really liked the way the guys swung the bats today. Just kind of the icing on the cake."
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Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey took the loss after surrendering all three Rays home runs. Dickey, who has allowed eight homers this season, was charged with five runs (four earned) on eight hits and one walk while striking out six. Dickey had allowed just three earned runs in his previous three starts, but since joining Toronto in 2013, he has allowed 94 homers, which is the most in the Majors over that span.

"I thought Dickey had a pretty good knuckleball tonight," said DeMarlo Hale, the Blue Jays' acting manager while John Gibbons serves a three-game suspension. "The long ball got him."

Michael Saunders, Jimmy Paredes and Edwin Encarnacion each homered for the Blue Jays. Toronto has scored more than five runs just twice in 17 games this month.

Back to back: Dickey was cruising until the Rays hit back-to-back homers in the fourth inning. Morrison hit a one-out drive to center, and Jennings followed with a shot to left. It was the first time Tampa Bay had recorded back-to-back home runs in a game this season.
"They're playing with a lot of confidence," Dickey said of the Rays. "But they ambushed a couple of first-pitch knuckleballs and hit them out of the park, and that's going to happen when you're a knuckleballer."
A first for LoMo: A night after collecting his first two RBIs of the season, Morrison connected for his first home run of the year, a drive that tied the game at 1. Morrison went 3-for-4 on the night, raising his average from .144 to .170.

"Relief -- a get-the-monkey-off-my-back-type deal," Morrison said. "Never a doubt that I was going to go [homerless], not be on the board for the whole year. It's good to get it out of the way and just be consistent from here on out."

Jake's escape: The Rays had just taken a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Odorizzi walked the first two hitters in the bottom half of the inning. Paredes grounded out to second for the first out, moving the runners to second and third. Odorizzi then retired Kevin Pillar on a groundout that saw third baseman Evan Longoria effectively check the runner before throwing to first. Odorizzi then got Ryan Goins on a popout to end the threat.
Plan the Paredes: The Blue Jays' offense continues to struggle, but Paredes has still made quite a first impression. The infielder singled in his Toronto debut on Tuesday night, then went deep in his first at-bat on Wednesday. According to Statcast™, Paredes' first homer of the season was projected to land 365 feet from the plate, and it left his bat at 102 mph. The drive to left off Odorizzi was Paredes' first homer since July 1, 2014.

"I felt good because I put some energy into the game, getting the first run for our team," Paredes said.
"A ton of positives. This series, we played a lot of really clean defensive baseball and we ran the bases well. Good things happen when you play efficiently like we did." -- Cash, on the Rays' roll
Longoria and Kiermaier both extended their hitting streaks to seven games. Longoria took care of business from the get-go with a first-inning single. Kiermaier's sixth-inning homer extended his streak.

Toronto's starting rotation is 0-3 with a 10.25 ERA over its losing streak.

Hale used a challenge in the top of the sixth inning following a disputed call at first base. Morrison led off the frame with a single and was almost picked off by Dickey. Toronto felt that first baseman Justin Smoak's tag was in place before Morrison touched the bag, but after review, it was ruled that that call would stand without sufficient video evidence to either confirm or overturn the initial decision.
Rays:Matt Andriese (2-0, 0.56 ERA) will start Friday's 7:10 p.m. ET series opener against the Tigers in Detroit, hoping to notch another victory after winning his first two starts of the season -- the most recent a shutout of the Athletics. Andriese has a tricky across-the-body motion and good stuff that has had hitters struggling thus far.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada (1-2, 2.89 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays open a four-game series against the Twins in Minneapolis at 8:10 p.m. ET on Thursday. The contest will mark the start of a seven-game road trip that will also take the club to New York for a series against the Yankees. Estrada surrendered five runs (four earned) in his last start, with all but one of the runs coming in the second inning.
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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and

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